How Well Supported is LATAM’s Business Aviation Fleet?

Representatives from the leading business aircraft manufacturers spoke with Felipe Reisch to explain the type of support network available in Latin America for private jet owners and operators.

Felipe Reisch  |  16th April 2024
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Felipe Reisch
Felipe Reisch

Felipe Reisch works as a public relations consultant for private aviation companies worldwide, leading...

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Embraer private jet support at Sorocaba in Brazil

Shaped by its distinctive geography that defines the needs of each customer based on their location, Latin America has a diverse pool of aircraft. This means that it has an equally diverse set of aircraft service and support needs.

Whether turboprops are being operated in challenging conditions near the Andes Mountains or over the Amazon rainforest, or private jets are being flown to connect large financial hubs at opposite ends of the continent, owners and operators of private aircraft in Latin America require a reliable service and support network to help keep their aircraft moving.

While regions like North America and Europe have comprehensive maintenance support networks for aircraft operators, the situation is not as extensive elsewhere – including in Latin America. Nevertheless, the leading business aircraft manufacturers are taking steps to enhance their support.

Ideally, the nearest service center will not be too far from the operator’s home base. That way, owners can avoid the unnecessary cost of moving the aircraft halfway across the continent to receive the necessary Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) support. Or if an aircraft is unable to fly, they can receive help quickly at their home airport.

Support may be provided directly by the manufacturer at one of its own service centers. Alternatively, it could be provided through manufacturer-Authorized Service Facilities (ASFs).

A third option of locating an independent MRO facility to provide the support is available, but the focus of this article is on what the manufacturers are doing themselves or through their ASFs to ensure operators using their aircraft are supported across Latin America.

Bombardier: Currently, Bombardier has two ASFs in Brazil (MAGA Aviation) and one in Mexico (Servicios Aereos Estrella).

MAGA Aviation has approval to support Bombardier customers in other Latin American countries, including Argentina, while Bombardier’s mix of customers – whether corporations, individuals, fleet operators, or governments – can rely on Field Service Representatives (FSRs) in Mexico and Brazil.

“In addition, operators in Latin America have the support of Bombardier’s maintenance network of wholly owned service centers in North America,” notes Anthony Cox, Vice President of Customer Support at Bombardier.

Dassault Aviation: Presently, Dassault has two service centers in Latin America, in Sorocaba (outside São Paulo), Brazil and at Toluca Airport in Mexico. The Sorocaba center has been supporting Dassault Falcon jets for 15 years and will soon move into facilities at the new Catarina Executive Airport.

Support at Toluca is provided through Dassault-authorized partner Aeropersonal and is expected to be capable of handling the largest Falcon jets, including the new Falcon 6X and Falcon 10X once they are operating in the region.

Moreover, according to Vadim Feldzer, Head of Falcon Global Communications, “Many customers from South America bring their aircraft to our factory service center in Stuart, Florida. And we expect more traffic from the LATAM region when we open our new flagship US service center in Melbourne, Florida in 2025.”

Embraer: São Paulo-based Embraer has a service center in Sorocaba, Brazil with four hangars, three of which are dedicated to MRO and to performing aircraft modifications (such as the conversion of Legacy 450 business jets into Praetor 500s).

Ultimately, Sorocoba serves the complete portfolio of jets produced by Embraer in the executive aviation, commercial, defense, and security segments.

Gulfstream: With over 200 of its jets operating in the LATAM region, Savannah, Georgia-based Gulfstream has authorized Líder Aviação and Aero Rio Táxi Aéreo – both based in Brazil – to provide warranty repairs and maintenance services within Gulfstream’s regulatory approvals for its G650ER, G650, G550 and G280 operators.

Líder, which operates in several locations, including São Paulo, is also a Gulfstream-authorized parts dealer for South America and can facilitate parts transactions to support both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance events.

Gulfstream says Líder Aviação and Aero Rio Táxi Aéreo complement the company’s service centers in Palm Beach, Florida, and Savannah to provide comprehensive and timely support throughout the LATAM region.

Additionally, Gulfstream has an FSR team located in South America having appointed Roberto César Oliveira as its dedicated Gulfstream Customer Support FSR for Brazil. Meanwhile, Chile-based Gulfstream distributor Aerocardal offers maintenance services for G150s, G280s and G550s.

Pilatus Aircraft: Synerjet, the exclusive distributor for Pilatus Aircraft in Latin America, and for Cirrus Aircraft in northern South America and Central America, is another support provider with a well-established presence in Brazil, operating two facilities at Catarina Airport in São Paulo and one at Liberty Airport in Goianápolis.

Other facilities in the region are located at Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín, Colombia and three authorized service centers in Hessa/Indaer at San Fernando Airport, Argentina; Aerocardal at Santiago International Airport, Chile; and Aeromotores at La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala.

“Synerjet has its eyes on expansion opportunities in places such as Paraguay and even Florida,” says Fabio Rebello, Chief Commercial Officer. “Our philosophy is to support the customer at their closest location to minimize travel time.”

Textron Aviation: With more than 1,200 Cessna Citation jets and over 2,000 Cessna and Beechcraft turboprops operating in the LATAM region, Textron has developed a network to support these.

There are 10 Cessna Citation jet ASFs across the region and 15 turboprop ASFs that focus on warranty, programs, service inspections and parts support for operators. These can be found in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Moreover, Textron has five FSRs in the LATAM region to support customers with any needs they may have, as well as a bonded warehouse in Brazil to provide parts for customers as needed.

Type of Services in Latin America

From unexpected repairs to scheduled maintenance, a grounded aircraft in any region of the world means lost opportunities and a loss of resources for the owner.

With 40 factory service centers and 21 authorized service centers, plus 15 parts distribution centers around the world, Dassault has a global reach. “Services range from fairly simple line service operations, to changing tires and batteries, to major inspections that are required roughly every eight years, to interior refurbishment and painting (in some locations),” Feldzer notes.

The company’s MRO network has doubled in size in the last five years as Dassault seeks to move product support closer to customers and provide one uniformly high level of service worldwide.

Bombardier also has an extensive network of approximately 100 locations around the world. Recently it added close to one million square feet of new infrastructure and offers services that include maintenance and modification capabilities, heavy structural and composite repair capabilities, and interior finishing and paint capacities.

“Our team of technicians can complete a wide range of tasks, from comprehensive inspections to the latest aircraft upgrades,” Cox says.

Similarly, Synerjet provides a wide array of services in Latin America to owners, companies, air taxi operators, fractional ownership programs, and even special missions aircraft such as air ambulance.

“Typical airframe, engines, avionics, and systems scheduled maintenance is provided, plus specialized services like engine borescope inspections, troubleshooting, compressor washing, and more,” adds Rebello.

Apart from Brazil, for Synerjet there are half a dozen Latin American nations that generate continuous demand for its aircraft maintenance services. “In no particular order, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, Panama, and Guatemala are top markets – but we have recently seen other South and Central American countries showing greater interest in our products and services,” Rebello explains.

Unsurprisingly considering the size of the country, Feldzer says that Mexico is a major market for Dassault. “We also have multiple customers in countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, and Colombia.”

And according to Cox, the countries with the most Bombardier business aircraft activity in Latin America are Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

OEM Infrastructure in the LATAM Region

For a private jet owner or operator, the convenience of having a service center near to their base cannot be overstated and may even be a decision-driver for potential buyers who want to maximize the use of their investment.

These aircraft buyers will opt for aircraft built by manufacturers that have an established support network in the region.

“As you would expect, in larger countries and markets such as Brazil and Mexico, you find no lack of Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs) and infrastructure supporting operators of long-range business jets,” Feldzer says.

“A good rule of thumb is that in major business destinations, you are likely to find the services that jet operators require.”

The major challenge for the Latin American region seems to be developing consistent infrastructure plans outside of Brazil to allow aircraft buyers peace of mind about their investment, and a confidence of knowing their operating costs in advance.

Service centers also play a key role in keeping aircraft up-to-date and compliant with new regulations, or looking fresh through cockpit upgrades and cabin refurbishments (lighting, cabin WiFi, in-flight entertainment, and other comfort features), enhancing the overall buyer experience.

“We believe there is still a long way to go to develop business aircraft support infrastructure in Latin America outside of Brazil,” Rebello concludes. “We support local initiatives to develop such efforts together with authorities and entrepreneurs in the region.”

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